Monday, March 29, 2010

Skinner's last stand?

The rumor and speculation is kicking into overdrive. The Globe and the Providence Journal are now reporting that Al's time at BC is done regardless of if he gets the St. John's job. I've also heard that Gene has been pretty candid with his approach to this process and is not happy with Skinner.

What does this mean and where do we go from here?

1. Skinner is probably done at BC.
I didn't believe it until today. I even tweeted Andy Katz looking for confirmation. The reason I think it may be over is that Al doesn't want to coach where he is not wanted. Unless Gene comes back to him with some sort of embrace/extension, I think this relationship is over. Skinner is not going to stay like TOB did. He and Gene will work out some buyout. This is all in Gene's hands now and he has shown that he is willing to jettison winning coaches regardless of perception or contracts.

2. Why now?
Gene is a football guy first so Skinner's career at BC hasn't been micromanaged like the football coaches. For the most part Al delivered. This season disappointed everyone. But it wasn't fireable. Now though Gene has his opening and has given it enough thought that he wants someone with more passion for recruiting and willingness to be the face of the program. It seems he deems Skinner stale. It is not all that different from what happened with Cathy Inglese.

3. Who will Gene target interview?
Ivy League names, mid major types and former Skinner assistants will all be mentioned. I also expect one or more of the Duke assistants to get floated. I will do profiles if and when the official word comes. My preference and prediction is for Northeastern's Bill Coen.

4. What does this mean long term?
If Skinner doesn't get the St. John's job and is bought out, Gene will get raked across the coals nationally. Regardless of how you want to term this or the past coaching changes, this will be the fourth very successful coach Gene got heavy handed with joining TOB, Jags, and Inglese. I also think Al is under appreciated and the wrong coach could send us into a sharp decline. But in the long term, BC will be fine. It is just unfortunate that we can't ever have a clean transition.

Stay tuned as more develops. I just hope everyone takes the high road and treats the program, the players and the assistants with respect.


Ry said...

i'm with you bill. hate to see Al go like this, although I know that i may be in the minority.

if he does go, i hope it is done with some class. my vote is also for coen. call it a coincidence, but our recent mediocrity has coincided with his departure for northeastern. also, if i am not mistaken, he was the primary recruiter for bell, smith, and dudley.

KZGOBC said...

Sorry to go off topic: does anyone know if BC has an allotment of Frozen Four tickets? I'm planning to go and would rather purchase from BC directly over ticketmaster but haven't seen any info. Thanks!

VinnyBostonCollegeEagle said...

I think this is the right move for BC. Word is he pretty much gave up his coaching responsiblities to his assistents and we all know he didn't have his heart in recruiting. It's time for a change!! Good job Gene!!

blist said...

I think in sports a lot of times change is good for change's sake, because while a coach may be very good, many times things get stale or for whatever reason doesn't jell with the team. A lot of times, it ends up working very well -- look at the Jets switching to Rex Ryan from Mangini, the Red Sox to Francona after Little, Coughlin after Cowboy Jack etc.
I have always thought Al was the guy for BC for life, but last season's performance really makes me wonder if change isn't a good thing for us now.

VinnyBostonCollegeEagle said...

Right on blist!! You put it perfectly!!

blist said...

Globe saying now Skinner was fired last night

Southern_EAGLE said...

I thank Al for all his efforts and work with BC, but it is time for a change. I really don't think this makes BC or Gene look bad. Just part of the business of college basketball. Hopefully the change will put a spark into our returning players next year.

Laxman said...

I think this is a tough spot for all involved. Its tough to have a coach who is "looking around" Al interviewing at StJ was out there publicly so you know it was going to be used against him recruiting wise had he stayed. IMO Al isn't looking at SJ if he felt comfortable with his status at BC so I'm wondering if he was feeling heat before now.

From GDF's point he has a coach looking around who he didn't hire and may not want anyway. But canning him now re-inforces the impression that GDF may be tough to work for as a coach.

I'm not sad to see Al go, the program has been in overall decline the past few years. Maybe not on the court but in general from a lack of excitement and promotion (not all Al's fault).

Patrick said...

BC's athletic department will now be viewed by the national press --- and far more importantly, the national coaching fraternity --- as absolutely insane.

Al treated BC basketball well, and despite clearly trending downhill over the past three years, he did not deserve this.

BC has been an effective stepping stone for quality coaches from Chuck Dailey to Gary Williams to (even) Jim O'Brien. Now, a prospective young coach will get one message: if I go to BC, it's the last stop; I can't look around, else I'll be fired. By that standard, of course, we would have fired Billy Donovan, Coach K, Tom Izzo, etc, etc, by now.

I'm don't even think that perception is accurate. But it's out there and it won't be going away. Gene has made a fool of himself and the school. And he's made his job --- picking the right guy to coach the team --- infinitely harder. If you're a guy like Steve Donahue or even Jim Baron why would you ever go to BC if you had a choice to go to a different high-major school? We don't pay the money, and we certainly won't provide the AD support. Gene's fifedom ain't looking too good right now.

BCDoubleEagle said...

BC has Frozen Four tix. They are $189 for both sessions (Thurs. + Sat.) Call 617-552-GOBC

Andrew said...

Although I am greatful of everything Skinner has built over the past 13 season I think its clearly time to move on. The program has stalled, there is a lack of excitement surrounding the team and the program is one bad recruting class away from going into a tailspin.

For that reason I think we need to go in a completely different direction. Hiring Coen would be a disaster IMO. We need to start playing ACC basketball so we can attract ACC caliber recruits. That means the end of the flex (please). I realize Bruce Pearl would never leave Tennessee but that's the exact time of name/personality we need.

Erik said...

Hopefully they make a phone call to up the hill and get our talented marketing department to come up with a spin for this.

There are numerous areas that can be improved:
- Recruiting
- Involving the student body
- Attendance
- Atmosphere
- Promoting the program to public

As long as these are emphasized in the press conference, BC Athletics can look okay. Just point out the awful attendance statistics or show video of a game and how quiet the arena is. Show our win-loss record for an NCAA Tournament team returning 11 guys.

I like coaching longevity. I like stability. But I'm not blind to these areas of potential improvement. I am willing to here GDF's reasons. All we did on this site since Nov is complain about Skinner, maybe our AD is taking some action.

sujit said...

looks like Al was fired before he interviewed with St. John's

BCMike said...

I know Bill and many on here are big Al fans...but I don't think this move is insane.

I would have given Al one more year to make the tourney...but asking to interview other places when that was pretty much obvious something that was needed sends the message that he didn't think he could do it next year.

I just hope they get someone who can get it done in.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Mixed feelings on this one. Skinner is a class act and has a solid track record, but this past season was abysmal, and if you couple that with some behavioral issues with the club the past few seasons, an arguement definitely could be made that the program under Skinner had peaked for good and was perhaps on decline.

I don't think you can underestimate Skinner's staid style as a negative. Granted, he returned the program to respectability (with '01, '06 as nice highlights), but his inability to throw his weight into recruiting is frustrating when you consider the success of other similar schools in less desirable locations/conferences even with relatively similar academic standards. We're an ACC school in a top 10 media market, there is no reason the right coach couldn't bring in more tournament ready talent. No one is expecting Duke v2, but we definitely can recreate a Gonzaga level of success.

The temperment of our basketball program in many ways is a direct reflection of the temperment of Skinner: professional, relatively reliable, but for the most part boring and uninspiring. You see this in recruiting. You see this in the lack of a Midnight Madness. You see that even in our "bowling-for-buckets" offensive sets. You may even see this in our rather weak attendence. When successful, this is an adequate means of achievement, but it is a double-edged sword that confounds the issue when a team is losing.

Does the progam need Coen? Amaker? I'm not sure.

But I am quite certain that I'll be sad to see Al go at that 3pm press conference, but in the long term, I think it's the best thing for the program.

VinnyBostonCollegeEagle said...

We need to start a Get Bruce Pearl campaign right now. Let's lobby the school hard for that.

blist said...

Classy of GDF to let Al interview without the new being out, I think.
Strange Al then wouldn't make some concessions to get a NYC-familar guy on his staff to get the job at SJU. But loyalty is a good quality, especially when your downside is a $3 million buyout from BC

Erik said...

We can lobby for Bruce Pearl on a year where Tennessee finishes 5th in the SEC East and misses the tournament, but not on March 30, 2010.

La Bibloteca said...

Gene is a business man. Nothing is personal to him. The program has been a bit down lately, since Dudley left. I bet this had a lot to do with money. Due to the economy, BC could not afford to keep a coach making 2 million a year. The new guy will make less than a million a year. in this tough economy it was a financial move. Gene will not pay to keep a coach at BC. I wish he would be interested in maintaining a coach to the point where he/she is successful and "tenured." I will miss the Men's Clothing of Watertown commercials...

Erik said...

Steve Donahue has been at Cornell for 10 seasons. He might be ready to move on up to the East Side.

Eagle in Brighton said...

@the library

This definitely was NOT a salary dump (especially when you factor in the potential of a $3m buyout).

I agree it probably was a business decision, but one where a program on decline for the next few years was weighed against a swift change (not simply a decision where $X was swapped for $Y).

Btw, Skinner makes close to $1.1m a year (not $2m).

BCMike said...


It was reported only about a week ago that after all is said and done, Al made 2.1 at BC.

Claver2010 said...

Al was the 7th longest tenured coach in the NCAA
1. Boeheim
2. Coach K
3. Calhoun
4. Gary Williams
5. Izzo
6. Billy Donovan
7. Skinner

One sticks out like a sore thumb.

Eagle in Brighton said...

No, the Globe article implied that the $2.2m was due to unique one-time bonuses, not his traditional year to year salary.

"A BC official this week declined to disclose terms of the deal, though he said it would be 'extremely incorrect' to peg Skinner’s annual compensation at more than $2.2 million."

Jeremy Rosen said...

I think Claver's comment says it all -- the other 6 of those guys have won national titles in their current jobs. This is a totally different situation than with Jags. Jags was a relative newbie at BC. Al's been there for a long time. Sometimes you just need a change of pace.

Pearl would be the ideal replacement, but I just cannot believe he'd leave a school with the resources of TN. The only reasons he might are that he went to BC, that he'll always be third fiddle at TB (behind football and women's hoops with Summitt), that they had some scandal this year (players dismissed from the team), and that this is after all an ACC job -- and that means something more in hoops then it does in football. For one thing it's arguably better than a SEC job - remember that the SEC was relatively weak in hoops this season - a 20+ win Mississippi State team made the SEC tourney title game and lost by 1 to KY, but failed to make the NCAA.

KZGOBC said...

Thanks BCDoubleEagle!